Fueled Collective will not reopen its Uptown co-working space, officials confirmed Monday, noting that the office was too badly damaged during riots in May.
The decision not to restart its shared office operations at 1010 W. Lake St. in south Minneapolis came after rioters looted and damaged the CVS pharmacy above Fueled Collective’s 15,000-square-foot office.
A broken sprinkler line flooded the small business with water and chemicals that seeped into the walls and space, destroying furniture, fixtures and the firm’s internet network.
“There was about a foot of water,” said Fueled Collective CEO and co-founder Kyle Coolbroth. Luckily, most of the space’s 225 members had taken most personal laptops and belongings home due to the pandemic. Still the damage has left the company reeling.
Given the damage, the pandemic and fresh concerns about safety in the area, Coolbroth said he is not looking for a replacement space in Uptown. He plans to eventually look elsewhere in the Twin Cities for space.
“But for now, we are just going to take a breather and look around,” he said. “We need to look at our strategy and figure out what the future of work looks like and how we are going to serve that.”
Leaving the trendy Uptown neighborhood leaves Fueled Collective with two other Minnesota offices — one in downtown Minneapolis and another in northeast Minneapolis. The company recently did not renew its lease in St. Paul. It operates one location outside Minnesota, in Cincinnati.
“If you look at the whole industry, COVID hit co-working [office sharing] pretty hard,” Coolbroth said. Since March, many of its members have sought to work at home or with extensive social distancing to protect themselves from the coronavirus. Member visits to Fueled Collective shared offices are down by roughly half.
Other collaborative workspaces such as the larger WeWork have suffered layoffs and closings due to COVID-19.
Going forward, however, Coolbroth insists the industry should bounce back strongly. Fueled Collective members frequently tell him they miss the human interaction that sparks creativity and production.
At the same time, small businesses are increasingly inquiring about clean, organized and neutral spaces they can rent to conduct socially distanced meetings and presentations. With that in mind, Fueled Collective is looking around the Twin Cities and expects to rent another location at some point. As for timing, “I just don’t know when,” Coolbroth said.